Monday, September 28, 2015

Jury awards $3M to fired nurse

Here's an example of how bad it can get for companies that insist on doing the wrong thing when it comes to health and safety.

Jury awards $3M to fired nurse who complained of 'rushing patients through' to save money
A Portland jury on Friday awarded a nurse more than $3 million -- agreeing that she was wrongfully terminated by Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center after she complained to management that cost-cutting measures were jeopardizing patient care.
Registered nurse Linda Boly said Saturday that she felt vindicated by the verdict. She hopes it sends a "big message" to Legacy Health System that "rushing patients through" the process endangers them.
During the nearly two-week trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Legacy contended that it fired Boly in June 2013 for poor job performance. But her attorney, Mick Seidl, said Boly, 59, had a stellar track record during her 34-year career at the Northwest Portland hospital. 
Seidl said Legacy managers all the way up to the top were getting bonuses for staying within budget. In 2013, the year Boly was fired, Legacy CEO Dr. George Brown received a $340,000 bonus, on top of a base salary of about $960,000, according to Legacy's tax records.
Meanwhile, Legacy Health System -- which includes Legacy Good Samaritan, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in North Portland, Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham and others -- was working on overdrive to rein in its biggest expense: its staff, Seidl said. 
From December 2012 to June 2013, Boly was written up three times for failing to meet productivity quotas and for "working off of the clock" by completing chart work at the end of the day, Seidl said. Boly contended that she was being singled out -- disciplined when other nurses weren't when they didn't meet quotas or they worked off the clock. 
"The jury found those were not the real reasons" she was fired, Seidl said.
Seidl also argued that Boly was deemed "a troublemaker" by management starting in 2005, when she started working to pass Oregon's Nurse Staffing Law, which was designed to give nurses more influence over decisions that might affect patient care. Boly testified before the state Legislature twice -- using real-life examples from her job at Good Samaritan -- and that riled management. 
A 12-person jury awarded Boly $916,000 in lost wages up until a retirement age of 67, $625,000 for emotional distress and $1.5 million in punitive damages. Under Oregon law, 70 percent of the $1.5 million in punitive damages will go to the state.
On top of that, Legacy will be ordered to pay Boly's attorney's fees, which Seidl estimates at about $500,000. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Workplace conspiracy, harassment and retaliation laws

Whether you like your job or not you primarily work for a paycheck. When conditions at work are so stressful that you find it difficult to work for your paycheck you might want to consider your work environment situation.
In some cases, employees are victims of conspiracies in the workplace. It may sound like something out of a workplace drama series, but it is a common deterrent of progress and ultimately a very unprofessional practice in the workplace. We can pretend that drama doe not exist at work, but the truth is work is run by people. It is part of the human condition to play favorites and disrespect others. When this sort of unprofessionalism arises in an employer or employee, there is a great chance that he or she will attempt to gather additional employees on his or her side to rally against another employee in secret. This is a conspiracy.

Harassment

A conspiracy against an employee is almost always used to harass. Harassment is any conduct that will lead to the victim to feel unsafe, threatened, persecuted, or distressed. When an employer brings employees together to play a harmful role against an employee, he or she has a personal feud against that individual. This may be due to race, religion, gender, appearance, or anything that he or she does not like about that individual. Harassment is used as a tool to single someone out and make them feel unwanted or embarrassed in the workplace. An employee may feel that he or she is underperforming at work and that his or her opinions are not of value.

Coercion

Most people who would like to see someone leave the workplace that know there are not sufficient grounds to fire him or her, will coerce the employee into resigning by use of conspiring. If someone starts to feel an incredible amount of stress at work and unwanted, he or she will more than likely resign. This is one of the main goals employers and employees try to achieve when conspiring against an employee.

Workplace Retaliation 

workplace retaliationAre you aware these laws also protect you from being retaliated against? 

I'm one of many employees that have experienced retaliation in the workplace and its companion called harassment. 

Unfortunately, employees are subjected to discrimination, harassment and bullying everyday at work. This environment makes it seem as if the supervisor or manager is ALL POWERFUL in the hostile work environment they have created. Guess what? NOT...for employees that learn their Basic Employee Rights! One of the most powerful weapons employees have against negative employers is a RETALIATION LAWSUIT! 

Why? Retaliation claims are easier to prove. But, what is work retaliation? When our employers punishes us for engaging in "legally protected activity" it becomes retaliation on the job. There can be different kinds of retaliation in the workplace. Some labor and employment protections make any sort of retaliation illegal, others prohibit against unjust firing or wrongful termination. 

Retaliation claims have been increasing dramatically. According to the (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges filed from 2000 thru 2009 jumped 55 percent!! This made up 36 percent of all discrimination claims filed with the commission (the same percentage of racial discrimination claims filed that year). Some factors for the increase include the economic downturn, favorable laws that make proving retaliation easier. However, my favorite reason is arrogant or ignorant employers turning poorly trained supervisors and managers loose in the workplace. 
Employer retaliation can involve any adverse or negative decisions our bosses make against us. These may include; 

  • mysterious shift change
  • change in job duties
  • demotion
  • bullying
  • suddenly negative unjustified employee performance reviews
  • reduced salary
  • assigning blame for others failed job assignments
  • denial of promotion opportunity
  • exclusion from workplace social activities

      Employment Retaliation

For a single parent with three young children this shift reassignment creates a serious hardship. Also the shift change involved many different job functions thus changing her job title. This coincidentally meant she would now be making a lower salary. 

Workplace retaliation can be subtle,insidious and hide in many different disguises. Let's take a look at what is meant by protected activity. Workplace retaliation can very blatant, insidious and subtle. Workplace retaliation is connected to a"Protected Activity" the employee engages in. 

So what does "protected Activity" mean? In Protected activity there are two different elements:   Participation and Opposition 
Here are some examples of Participation:
  • helping co-workers with discrimination claims
  • talking to a (EEO) Equal Employment Opportunity officer
  • being a likely witness (giving testimony)
  • talking about filing a complaint or filing a complaint internally
  • talking about filing a complaint or filing a complaint with the (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • actively involved in an internal or external investigation
  • Talking to or hiring an attorney to file a complaint
Employees are also protect from retaliation in their personal conduct on the job. For example, an employee taking FMLA to care for a spouse or child can't be retaliated against.  

Employer Retaliation


If an employee informs his boss he is having a problem with depression and needs to enter the employers (EAP) employee assistance program he is protected from retaliation. When we inform employers of our concerns about possible violations dealing with safety and health, we are protected. When the employer investigates these issues and no violation has occurred,the employee(s) voicing the concerns acting in good faith are protected from retaliation. 



Here are some examples of Opposition:

  • peace protests (picketing)
  • inquiring if gender or other discrimination is the reason for an employment action
  • declining to perform an assigned task believed to be discrimination
  • requesting a reasonable accommodation
  • expressing intent to file a complaint

The one issue with opposition is that is has to be "reasonable". I know, what is deemed "reasonable". Well the following and hopefully some common sense, which isn't so common anymore, will explain better. These are some *NON PROTECTED* actions not considered "reasonable" opposition by the employee.

  • violating established employer policy
  • willfully undermining company business activity
  • refusing to comply with non discriminatory commands
  • abusive or violent protests

There is a significant difference between "participation" and "opposition" 

     

      Employee Retaliation


Employees using their rights in opposition must act in "good faith" or have honest intent if they believe the boss has violated their employee rights. However, employees in participation usually do not have to share a belief of wrongdoing on the part of the employer. For example, a co-worker that cooperates is protected from workplace retaliation when assisting my investigation of the boss violating my (ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act rights. The co-worker does not need to believe or know my rights have been violated. 



Another type of workplace retaliation protection involves what's called "Whistleblower Laws". This means it's illegal for employers to punish you when you expose a violation of those laws. Here are some examples;

  • retaliation for union involvement
  • retaliation by a union
  • retaliation under workers compensation law
  • retaliation involving unemployment law
  • retaliation dealing with public policy or common law

BIG RETALIATION CHARGE TIP!!


Shhhhhhhhh.....don't tell anyone, but retaliation charges are easier to prove than most other workplace violations. Why? Again, because it is tied to a "protected activity". For example, you file a gender discrimination complaint against your boss and lose. However, you still could win a complaint of retaliation for filing the gender discrimination charge. 



Here's the legal reason why. Courts have specifically said that an employee can prevail on a retaliation claim by establishing that the employer retaliated against the employee for opposing allegedly discriminatory practices even if the practices were not, in fact, discriminatory. This judgment comes from the caseSias v. City Demonstration Agency, 588 F2d 692, 692 (9th Circuit 1978).  

Retaliation Claims 

My professional experience and research shows many employers still don't get when it comes to retaliation at work. Here's another BIG TIP for every job seeker and employee, see if the employer is doing any of the following;
  • conducting retaliation and other employee rights training for managers and staff
  • providing detailed explanation of the retaliation complaint process
  • good faith communication with "participants" and "opposers" involved in protected activity
  • clearly written retaliation policies and procedures
  • maintaining accurate investigative records of employees being disciplined, complaining of retaliation or involved in protected activity.

If your employer or potential employer is not concerned about retaliation in the workplace, it becomes even more important for career seekers and employees to educate themselves. In an environment of outsourcing, illegal immigration, corporate corruption and unstable economy, more employers are using fear and intimidation as normal business activity. 



Again, the bottomline in recognizing retaliation on the job asks the question "Am I being punished for filing a complaint concerning discrimination, harassment, health or safety?" The majority of retaliation lawsuits involve some type of discrimination. Therefore, learn all you can about workplace discrimination and proving workplace discrimination. 


Sliding Door Company - Glass Cleaning Instructions

There seem to be many complaints about the "frosted" glass from The Sliding Door Company.

http://slidingdoorcom.blogspot.com/p/reviews.html

"The frosted side of the glass is difficult (impossible) to clean and shows through on the smooth side."
"The glass coating or etching came away in several spots to leave very obvious smears that look dirty.  I have sent photos and left voice messages.  I get a call back and they send me a cleaner.  I keep telling them it's not a cleaning issue.  Now the warranty is expired.  Never has anyone come out to look and assess.  My last call they told me that the only thing they could do was send me an acetone kit because the warranty is expired...in spite of a paper trail of emails going back to a month after install.  They refuse to honor the warranty.  I have never rec'd the acetone kit.  Ridiculous.  These doors were not inexpensive.  DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT!"
"Glass would often arrive defective or stained."
"The "frost" on the door is very cheap and is more of a high-end stick on frost rather than it being ingrained in the glass.  The frost starts to fade away and turn black in spots -- especially if it is exposed to water or the wrong cleaner.  They have, to their credit, twice come back to "fix" the problem, and it is much better, but not perfect and I don't know how long it will last.  We have another frosted (non-sliding) door in our house (it came with our house when we purchased it) and the quality of the two doors are night and day -- the poor quality door being the Sliding Door Co. door.  "
  • "I ordered a frosted pocket door for my bathroom. I got an extra tall one and it was fairly pricey. I dealt with Jose Vega through the process who was aware which room I was ordering the door from. At no point was I told that the sliding door company's frosted doors are just an effect that is applied to the surface , very very cheaply done. Every single time a drop of water gets on it, it takes the frosting off. I have spots covering the brand new door. When I reached out, Jose did not respond to me.  Another person replied and said  to use the glass cleaner they provide which explicitly states in its directions to NOT use on the frosted side of doors.  I have followed up multiple times with Jose and received absolutely no response. As soon as the sale was done, I was no longer important to the company.  A year before I ordered 7K worth of closet doors from them as well and will most likely have additional projects in the future so this is a very short term way of thinking.  I am really surprised at the low quality for the price and the total lack of solutions offered and customer service. "
It's their "most popular glass".  
http://www.slidingdoorco.com/help/faq
"Frosted is our most popular glass and is perfect for every use. It allows light to enter, but visibility is blurred for objects more than 6 inches away from the glass, and only bright colors will be apparent."
They claim here that it is "perfect for every use"... So... 

You bought your frosted doors.  You expect them to look wonderful.  
And yet, you notice something seeping from the edges of the glass. What is that?  The article linked below describes this issue and the causes.


Seal Failure!
Do your current windows have that streaky frosted appearance that, no matter how much you scrub at them, will not go away?
Like this:
It’s called a seal failure and it occurs when the sealant, a fast-dry adhesive, between two panes of glass breaks-down and allows moisture to seep into the airspace.
You might be wondering how this happened…
The external environment, low quality sealants, and poor window design, over time puts pressure on the panes of glass that can eventually cause the seal to break.  However, all window manufacturers are required to test the product against changes in temperature and air pressure to prevent the seal from breaking.
So assuming the window passed initial inspection, how did it result in seal failure? 
Over time sealant are subjected to repeated extreme conditions that cause it to break down.  Trapped water, heat, cold and air pressure are a few of the culprits. 

Your closet doors are on their way!
OK, that makes sense.  TSDC doors are "on the water" in shipping containers for months.  They ALL come from China and it takes 10 weeks.  If that container happened to be in the sun, that could be pretty "extreme."  Could TSDC inspect the doors when they arrive?  Sure, but then what?  Tell the customer they have to wait another three months for a replacement - that may or may not have the same problem?  

Besides, we have learned from Sheryl Hai-Ami in her response to customer complaints that shipments aren't inspected when they arrive from China and that it's even common for items to be missing from the containers.  

It would make sense that The Sliding Door Company could change the way *their* factory produces the doors - maybe ask them to use a different sealant?  But this isn't possible, apparently, as they have tried this for years.  So, what have they done?


When you ask The Sliding Door Company for help, their customer service representative tells you your glass needs cleaning - hoping you will go away.  


This is a known problem at The Sliding Door Company - and something their factory will not address adequately.  The known problem is called "seal failure" and is (as with the blemished ramps), ignored because their own factory is more profitable when they don't address these issues adequately. The fact that NO quality control procedures are in place and that "Glass Cleaning Instructions" are sought by end users suggests this problem will continue.

The Sliding Door Company's faceless customer service department has provided customers with glass cleaner, acetone and excuses.    

UPDATE:
The Sliding Door Company received another recent complimentary review that describes exactly the same problem.  They STILL haven't addressed this known issue and are STILL suggesting "glass cleaner" as a solution.  This poor customer expects that the glass cleaner will work. 


https://www.yelp.com.au/biz/the-sliding-door-company-san-diego?
Clark K.La Mesa, United States 25/3/2016
I had these doors installed for seven different openings in my home, which was quite an investment.  I've enjoyed them greatly for years, though I recently had some issues with a couple of cracked track guides/wheels as well as the gas within the panes leaking onto the inside at the borders of the doors, giving the appearance of the frosted look etching away (apparently this is a problem with the sealing tape rather than the gaskets).  After a lengthy setup time to have a service person come by the house, I was very impressed with Justin who addressed all of the issues and left me with a bottle of glass cleaner to address the symptom of the slow-leak gasket/tape problem.  He was very friendly, professional, efficient, and helpful in resolving all of the doors' issues.  Overall I like the product and greatly appreciate Justin's help.



Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why Do Companies Punish Whistleblowers?


You spot your company doing something illegal. You document the problem and take it to your manager and Human Resources department and they should support you, protect you and make sure the problem is fixed. There is a patchwork of laws surrounding this issue and they vary from state to state. But, of course, fixing the problem and protecting the whistleblower falls under the category of "right thing to do," no matter what state you live in.
The job of the Human Resources Department is to help the business be successful. By encouraging people to come forward with evidence of serious problems, the company can correct small problems before they become big problems that can result in serious legal and financial consequences for the company.
Apparently, someone forgot to tell certain Pharmaceutical Companies this. My BNET Colleage Jim Edwards writes:
"In a string of recent whistleblower cases a common theme has been the worried or disgruntled executive reporting wrongdoing to management, giving them the chance to fix the problem. Instead, management chose to harass or fire the staffer, thus virtually guaranteeing that a lawsuit would be filed." 
I want to bang my head and say, "Why? What are you thinking? 
...
Here are some of the non-obvious reasons why we punish instead of protecting. 
Denial. It's a powerful thing. ... It can make you jaded after a while. When everyone is knocking on your door claiming illegal activity is going on, and it's not, the temptation is to assume that everyone complaining is wrong.
Fear. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. ... Well, neither does your boss. it's easier to claim the whistleblower is the irrational one and causing disharmony amongst the ranks. You rarely need high level approval to fire a low level employee, but you sure as heck are going to have to tell the big boss in order to fix a systemic problem.
Profits. So, your drug is being marketed illegally. Sales reps are pushing an off-label use. But, it's selling well. If you stop this push, it will hurt sales, which will hurt the business, which may hurt your bonus, or worse, your job. So, if we can just keep this darn whistleblower quiet, or discredit him, life will be just fine.  
Misguided belief that it's not a big deal. So what if we're violating a law? People break the speed limit every day. What's the big deal? So, when someone comes forward, everyone says, "yeah, so what?" And then when that person complains again, people start to see the person as the problem, rather than the problem itself.
Forgetting about the big picture. Many people are so focused on their short term or departmental goals that they forget there is an entire company out there that will (hopefully) still be operating in 10 years. Focusing only on what brings in money RIGHT NOW causes you to neglect the fact that violation of laws may bring profits in the short run but will cause bigger problems in the long run. Sometimes you have to take the pain right now in order to preserve profits in the future.
Truth, Justice and the American way!
Of course, these are just a few of the reasons Whistleblowers aren't taken seriously and are even punished. It should not be that way. Every company should have an established process for reporting and investigating problems. And, every employee should know how to report and have the reassurance that they will be listened to and not punished.
And if you spot something going on that shouldn't be? You report it. Don't let yourself be caught up in the above justifications. It's always important to do the right thing. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Proprietary Formula for Aluminum?

Quality Fade - When Manufacturers Cut Corners
Workers in China separating recycled materials

Paul Midler coined the useful term “quality fade” in his book Poorly Made in China.1 Midler was a recent Wharton business school graduate when he traveled to China in 2001 to use his business acumen and knowledge of Chinese languages to help Western companies do business in the booming region. His book and blogs are well worth checking out, but let’s get to his key finding, quality fade, which he defines as “the deliberate and secretive habit of widening profit margins through a reduction in the quality of materials.”

Here’s an example of how quality fade can work:
An American company designs a new high-rise building. Part of the company’s design includes aluminum supports to hold the concrete as it is poured. Desiring to save significant costs on fabricating the aluminum supports, the company contracts with a Chinese company. Now, the American company doesn’t just take it on good faith that the Chinese company will provide the goods according to specifications. The American company goes to China and oversees the initial rounds of production to ensure that specifications are met with precision. Satisfied, the American company’s representatives return to the States, and the company begins receiving the shipments of its perfect aluminum supports.
The first few shipments are completely satisfactory. Everybody’s happy. After awhile, though, the American company runs a test on the aluminum and finds its quality is compromised. In fact, some of the aluminum weighs 90 percent less than it should.
A serious fade from the initial high quality has occurred. What happened? According to Midler, what happened was a deliberate and unannounced change in the Chinese company’s manufacturing process.
The above account is true. Midler documents it in a podcast produced by the Wharton School of Businessand elsewhere. Midler claims that in an effort to maximize profit, the Chinese company simply scrimped on their materials but created a product that looked and felt like the product that the American company originally ordered.

Conflicts of Interest

Another problem with third-party testing is that some testing companies are incentivized to pass the products they’re testing. We’ve seen this time and again in the financial services industry and in scandals like Enron, in which underwriters and regulatory agencies profit more once a product passes inspection. Conflicts of interest abound, and in very few cases can consumers catch up to all the problems in the supply chain.

Trust

Quality fade can happen with any product made anywhere. The problem seems to be especially egregious with Chinese manufacturers lately, but no country, industry or manufacturer is immune.
As consumers, what can we do to protect ourselves against quality fade? It doesn't make sense that we would test the products we buy in the stores. We trust that the companies we buy from do that for us. On a certain level, we’re stuck with good old-fashioned trust. Familiarity with a product and a company, transparency in manufacturing processes, traceability – all of these may go a lot farther toward convincing us that we are getting what paid for than a gold sticker that says “Quality Assured.”
  1. Midler, Paul. Poorly made in China: an insider’s account of the China production game. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey. 2011
OK, so how does this relate to The Sliding Door Company products, you might ask? They claim to own their own factory (in China).  
They must have quality control procedures in place, right?  Well, you would think so... but they apparently don't have as much quality "control" as they would like everyone to believe.  For example, there are "ramps" that go on the edges of their tracks.  These ramps are aluminum and go through a process called "anodizing" which applies a color to the ramps.  The factory was using wires to suspend the ramps and this process left a blemish (like a scratch) on the ramps.  Doron Polus, the CEO of TSDC, visited the Chinese factory to get to the bottom of this issue, only to come back with the explanation that nothing could be done about the blemishes.  The customers would have to live with them.  So in this case, a known quality issue that could be controlled is being ignored.  The factory had the last word here.  This is just one of many cases. 



Ingots of a known Aluminum Alloy
Blemishes are one thing, but how about structural integrity? Most TSDC products are made of aluminum - their door and panel frames as well as the structural members that support the doors and panels.  Aluminum alloy is graded by strength and treatment processes - as well as the composition of the alloy itself.  Here's a listing of Aluminum Alloys.  When something has a structural requirement, calculations are based on the properties of the aluminum alloy being used.  So, for example, a component made of 6061-T6 aluminum has properties known to engineers throughout the world.  Here's what the smelting process looks like when real ingots of aluminum alloy are being used.  The ingots are made of a specific aluminum alloy and products made from this foundry will have known strength characteristics.

So, what grade of aluminum does The Sliding Door Company use in its products? Let's check their FAQ page:
"Is the framework aluminum or wood?" 
"Our frames are made from our own, *proprietary formula aluminum*, which is light yet super strong and durable. Our aluminum is also more environmentally friendly than wood."
Alright then... No known aluminum alloy was good enough for The Sliding Door Company - they had to come up with a "proprietary formula" that I'll bet Alcoa would love to get their hands on.  I'm sure, when pressed in court, they will be able to produce this proprietary formula, and the test methods they use to ensure their products meet the properties and standards they expect from their proprietary formula aluminum.  I'm guessing they've applied for a patent... wouldn't you?

I'd like to offer another possibility... 
Share a Coke with The Sliding Door Company
This type of recycling of Aluminum is not uncommon in China. And products made like this are suitable for decorative and other applications - but NOT suitable as structural materials. TSDC's own engineering documents don't talk about a "proprietary formula" of aluminum when engineering calculations were made and signed by an engineer.  Lacking evidence of a "proprietary formula" I suggest the composition of the aluminum in TSDC products is unknown and certainly not acceptable for structural and overhead applications.  


So, what we have here could have been a case of "quality fade" but for the admission of The Sliding Door Company (through their "proprietary formula" baloney) that they actually KNOW this is going on.  Does this help their bottom line?  One can easily imagine that billets of certified 6061 aluminum cost a lot more than aluminum lawn chairs and beer cans.  
  




Saturday, September 19, 2015

Spying in the Office - The Walls Have Ears!

The Walls Have Ears
 The Rise of Workplace Spying
A growing number of companies are using technology to monitor their employees' emails, phone calls, and movements. Here's everything you need to know:
How are employees being tracked?
In almost every way.  If you work on an office computer, your bosses can not only legally monitor your company email and internet browser history, they can also log keystrokes to check your productivity and even see what you type on private services like Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter.  If you have a work cellphone, your employer can pinpoint your precise location through GPS. A survey from the American Management Association found that at least 66 percent of U.S. companies monitor their employees' internet use, 45 percent log keystrokes, and 43 percent track employee emails. And office workers aren't the only ones being spied on. 
Who does the actual monitoring? 
It's all done automatically:  Software programs scan employees' email accounts and computer files and alert supervisors to anything inappropriate.  What constitutes inappropriate, of course, is up to each company. 
What else are they looking for?
Some companies search for evidence that employees might be thinking about quitting. They check for obvious signs such as Google searches for headhunters and job-listings sites, but also track subtler signifiers of discontent, such as employees who refer to the company as "they" in emails rather than the more inclusive "we."  Bosses might then try to entice these employees to stay, or take steps to ensure that if they do leave, they take no confidential data or client lists with them.  But it's a tricky balance — if employees discover their boss has been spying on Google searches they thought were private, office morale can plummet. "Right at the heart of all of this is trust," says Ken Oehler of Aon Hewitt, a human-capital consulting firm.  "What sort of message does it send that they need to monitor [workers'] desktops?" 
Can employees stop this tracking?
Generally, no.  Most employee contracts give management free rein to do what it wants with data gathered from office-issued equipment, but some surveilled workers are fighting back.  A former sales executive at wire-transfer firm Intermex filed an unfair dismissal lawsuit against the firm earlier this year, alleging that she was fired after she uninstalled an app on her work cellphone that tracked her whereabouts 24/7.
"Even if your boss says you're not being monitored," says Nancy Flynn, founder of the Ohio-based consultancy ePolicy Institute, you should "just assume you're being monitored."
Listening in at the water cooler
If you find the idea of your boss reading your emails creepy, how about having your location, tone of voice, and conversation length monitored throughout the working day?  Boston-based analytics firm Sociometric Solutions has supplied some 20 companies with employee ID badges fitted with microphone, location sensor, and accelerometer. Sociometric Solutions doesn't record conversations or provide employers with individuals' data.  Instead, it crunches data and looks at how employee interactions affect performance.  At Bank of America call centers, for example, the firm found that workers in tightly knit groups who took breaks together were more productive and less likely to quit.
9 Ways Your Employer Can Legally Spy On You
Is Your Boss Spying On You?
How to tell if your Boss is Spying on You - Forbes


From Glassdoor   
What to do when your Boss is Spying on You
 Your boss may be spying on you and chances are you’ll never know it. From keystroke loggers to hidden cameras, employers around the country use different tactics to keep tabs on their employees, all of which are perfectly legal if you’re using the company’s gear.
 According to experts, employers believe they are justified in using these big brother type tactics to prevent against things like lost productivity and leaks of company secrets.
“There is no more employee loyalty. Employees are not loyal to the companies they work for and employers don’t feel the sense of a long term relationship with the employees,” says Mark Jaffe, president of Wyatt & Jaffe, the executive search firm. The tough job market has prompted people to stay in jobs longer and take ones they normally wouldn’t, creating an environment of unsatisfied workers which isn’t lost on the employer, he says. “Companies feel they need to guard against duplicity, wrong doing or disloyalty,” says Jaffe.

Employer spying tactics vary
So how are the bosses spying? Since employers own all the computer equipment, they have the right to monitor email, instant messages, documents and the websites employees visit. The companies can even listen in on phone conversations and put cameras in work areas as long as they own it all.
Employees aren’t void of rights
Although employers have the right to monitor workers, the employees also have privacy rights. That means a boss couldn’t sift through his underlings email without a business justification. What’s more the employer needs consent from its workers to monitor their behavior in the workplace.With many applications moving to the Web, what the boss can look at is also getting murkier. According to King of Avvo, an employee may be using a company computer to check his email, but is going to his private gmail account.  Not to mention that work doesn’t stop at the office. Many people are using their own devices after hours to conduct business, which is why King says excess monitoring isn’t a good idea mainly because it sends the wrong message that the employer doesn’t trust its employees.
How to protect yourself
If you work for a company that you think is spying on you, the best defense is to stop any behavior that could cause you problems at work. Don’t send personal emails from your company account, take part in inappropriate instant messages or spend office hours checking Facebook or playing Angry Birds.If you have to conduct non-related work during office hours, do it on your own smartphone or tablet computer. If that’s not an option, send the email via your gmail or Yahoo account.

Is The Sliding Door Company using Splashtop to spy on employees? 

Is Splashtop installed on your computer at work?  Yes?  For TSDC employees, that means The Sliding Door Company's IT department (or anyone with access to the account) can monitor your screen and what you are doing whenever they like.  Were you aware of this?


Does your computer have a camera?


"Whether it's to sort of spy on someone or simply just make sure they’re doing all right, Splashtop CamCam is the monitoring app for you. It’s simple to use and has a whole host of features, so download it today and see how it could help you out."


"Great app for security or just keeping an eye on things

Love this app, let's me see my home without alerting anyone to me doing so. I set my cams up in my house when I'm away, and can check on it from wherever I am. Give me a feeling of security without the monthly cost."

(This may explain why Betty Jacobs suggested she reviewed "videos" to determine if her employees had made racist comments.)

And, of course, they are not limited to using Splashtop.  In my case, they installed spyware that was able to monitor conversations on my Skype account generated from my PERSONAL computer while AT HOME.  Yes, I reported this to the ACLU.

It's up to you how much information you give to The Sliding Door Company, or any employer, of course.  Definitely don't use their equipment at home - or bring it home for that matter if you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Don't log into any personal accounts from work as they could capture your passwords and PIN numbers.  Be VERY careful. 

You-Tube: How to remove Splashtop from your computer